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From Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT): Learn To Prepare For Emergencies!

(Part 1 of 2)

Preparing Makes Sense

The likelihood that you and your family will survive a house fire depends as much on having a working smoke detector and an exit strategy, as on a well-trained fire department.  The same is true for surviving a terrorist attack or other emergency.  We must have the tools and plans in place to make it on our own, at least for a period of time, no matter where we are when disaster strikes.  Just like having a working smoke detector, preparing for the unexpected makes sense.

Get A Kit Of Emergency Supplies

Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.  While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food, and clean air.

Consider Two Kits

In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own.  The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to get away.  You’ll need a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.  Include in the kits a three-day supply of non-perishable foods that are easy to store and prepare such as protein bars, dried fruit, or canned foods.  If you live in a cold weather climate, include warm clothes and a sleeping bag for each member of the family.

Some potential terrorist attacks could send tiny microscopic “junk” into the air.  Many of these materials can only hurt you if they get into your body, so think about creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination.  It’s smart to have something for each member of the family that covers their mouth and nose, such as two to three layers of a cotton T-shirt, handkerchief, towel, or filter mask, readily available in hardware stores.  It is very important that the mask or other material fit your face snugly so that most of the air you breathe comes through the mask, not around it.  Do whatever you can to make the best fit possible for children.

Also, include duct tape and heavyweight garbage bags or plastic sheeting that can be used to seal windows and doors.  If you need to create a barrier between yourself and any potential contamination outside.

Make A Plan For What You Will Do In An Emergency

Plan in advance what you will do in an emergency.  Be prepared to assess the situation.  Use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Develop A Family Communication Plan

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations.  Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency.  It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call then to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.  Be sure each person knows the number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.  You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may be down altogether, but be patient.

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the attack, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away.  You should understand and plan for both possibilities.  Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is immediate danger.  Watch television or listen to the radio for official instructions as they become available.  If the power is out, have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio.

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